About Us

Cappella Cantorum was co-founded by its original Music Director & Conductor, Barry B. Asch and Charter President Phillip Zimmerman, in January 1970.  Cappella Cantorum emerged from the belief that a need existed for a continuing opportunity for the Lower Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline community to participate in the fellowship of choral singing.  Following a performance of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols by choir members and friends of the First Congregational Church of Essex in December 1969, Mr. Asch and Mr. Zimmerman approached the augmented choir with the idea, and Cappella Cantorum was born.

The group would perform its own concerts and Phil suggested it be called “Cappella Cantorum” which literally translates from Latin into “chapel singers.”

Schubert Mass in E flat major, March 22, 1970 program cover

Cappella Cantorum debuts with Schubert’s Mass in E flat major, March 22, 1970

On Palm Sunday, March 22, 1970, Cappella Cantorum performed its first concert, Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E flat major (D. 950) at Valley Regional High School in Deep River with 51 singers and an amateur orchestra.

Wilma Brewer Asch served as Executive Director for the organization’s first 16 years.  Mrs. Asch secured 3 consecutive grants from the State of Connecticut which helped to establish Cappella Cantorum and allowed the hiring of professional orchestras and soloists.

Today, Cappella Cantorum is comprised of three distinct units:

True to its original intent, all of the Cappella Cantorum choruses welcome new members without audition.  The organization’s primary purpose is to give singers of all ages the opportunity to learn, perform and share great choral music.  To that end, it offers music education and coaching to improve sight-reading, understanding of music theory and vocal production.  Workshops with professional singers are also offered periodically, and singers are encouraged to augment learning on their own with a variety of rehearsal aids.


Cappella Cantorum Benefits the Community

  • Adds to the quality of life by enriching cultural offerings available to audiences in the area
  • Gives all singers the opportunity to participate with no auditions required
  • Provides an opportunity for study and performance of major choral works with professional orchestra, conductor and soloists
  • Hosts the Annual Messiah Sing and Listen Concert at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, CT
  • Co-sponsors the annual SummerSings series for continued sight-reading and vocal practice in an informal setting
  • Includes music education and coaching to improve sight-reading, music theory and vocal production
  • Strengthens church choirs by providing their members with significant additional music training and experience
  • Provides social contacts and challenging music to keep members active and engaged
  • Offers opportunities to travel and sing in major cathedrals across Europe



Cappella Cantorum is made possible by the support of area businesses and individuals through program advertising, by generous sponsors, by our concert audiences, by our members through dues and hard work, and through the dedication and enthusiasm of our Music Director Simon Holt and the efforts of the all-volunteer Board of Directors. THANK YOU!

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Cappella Cantorum, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.